Chinese Fruit

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Rambutan 红毛丹 (hóng máo dān)

Once the rambutan’s hairy exterior is peeled away, its deliciously sweet and sticky flesh is revealed inside, with a large woody seed in the middle. This is a relative of lychee and longan as we will see later, and has a hairy exterior. Once the red skin is peeled it reveals a strikingly similar lychee-like interior, deliciously sweet and sticky flesh that tastes grape-like. It can be eaten cooked or fresh. The seed is actually edible after cooked.

Bayberry 杨梅 (yángméi)

This fruit is native to China and is known as the bayberry. It’s a Chinese strawberry by its scientific name, Myrica rubra. Its exterior is spiky and red and is completely edible with a pit in the centre. There are various ways to fully utilize the bayberry – it can be eaten fresh, dried or fermented to make baijiu, a Chinese liquor.

Lychee 荔枝 (lìzhī)

Of all the unusual fruits mentioned in this article, the lychee is probably the most known to the non-Chinese. Native to China, Taiwan and Southeast Asia, lychee belongs to the soapberry family. The lychee also possesses a spiky red exterior. It’s slightly larger than a cherry, with its seed encompassed by an inedible skin and relatively translucent milky flesh. Its flesh is extremely sweet, soft and white in colour, with plenty of Vitamin C. Lychee is predominantly eaten fresh, but also canned and commonly served in Chinese desserts.

Longan 龙眼 (lóngyǎn)

The longan has a Chinese name that translates into “dragon eye” due the resemblance of its flesh and seed to the eye of the dragon. The meat is translucent, while the seed is dark brown or black. It is similar to the lychee, which also belongs to the soapberry family, although the longan is sweeter and less juicy. It can be eaten fresh but is often dried as a snack or as an addition to Chinese savoury dishes. Dried longans are commonly used in Chinese desserts.

Pomelo 柚子

Pomelo is also called pummelo, and it's the monster of the citrus fruit family. These Chinese fruits are roughly the same size and shape as a cantaloupe, though one end is pointed. The greenish-yellow skin of the pomelo means it looks similar to a grapefruit, but the flesh is pink or rose-colored and sweeter than a grapefruit.

According to Chinese tradition, the pomelo brings good luck. To avail yourself of this benefit, place one or two pomelo fruits around your home. On the other hand, you could just peel off the thick skin of the raw fruit and eat the slightly dry, fibrous segments.

Goji 枸杞

If you're looking for a real nutritional bang for your buck, pick goji berries. These red or dark blue berries are little packages of vitamins, minerals and protein, including vitamins A, B-2 and C, thiamine, copper, selenium, potassium, iron and zinc. Each 100 gram serving contains 11 grams of protein.

Goji berries also contain oodles of the antioxidants lutein and lycopene as well as polysaccharides and carotenoids. The results of scientific studies suggest that goji berries may slow aging, control blood sugar and cholesterol levels, boost the immune system and help with weight loss.

Goji berries are rarely sold fresh. If you do find some, they'll look like cherry tomatoes. The berries are usually sold dried. Eat them as you would dried fruit, or put a few in a cup of tea for a sweet flavor and invigorating punch.

Persimmon 柿子

There's more to persimmons than meets the eye. The Chinese variety of this fruit is round and resembles an orange tomato, though the stalk and dried flower parts are thicker.

The persimmon has special powers: Inside each fruit is a seed that is said to predict the weather.

The persimmon is a fall fruit. Wait until the fruits are fully ripe before eating them. When persimmons are at their most delicious, they turn soft and begin to crack open. Peel off the skin and enjoy the sweet and slightly sour flesh.

When you've finished eating, split the seed in half to discover what kind of winter weather to expect. If the shape inside the seed is forked, a mild winter is on its way. If the shape is like a spoon, expect plenty of snow. But if you see a knife-like shape, prepare for an icy season.

The nutrients persimmon provides include vitamin A, antioxidants, shibuol and betulinic acid – and the fruit is believed to help prevent cancer. Two varieties are grown in the United States. Hachiya is pale, heart- or acorn-shaped and astringent, and Fuyu is sweeter, orange and tomato-shaped.

Jujube 枣

Jujubes taste yummy fresh or dried. The immature fruit is green, and as it ripens it turns dark red and finally black. But the story doesn't end there. Jujube is also sold as a dried fruit that looks like a red date.

You might see fresh jujubes that are egg-shaped, pear-shaped, round or oval, and ranging from the size of a cherry to that of a plum. Eat fresh fruits when they have begun to turn red. The whitish flesh is crisp and juicy. Overripe jujubes that have begun to soften and wrinkle are also luscious.

You'll find the taste is like apple tinted with cinnamon. The Chinese believe eating jujubes is helpful if you have a cold, perhaps thanks to a level of vitamin C that's 20 times higher than in citrus fruits.

Carambola 杨桃

The clue is in the name with star fruit, though you might also have heard the fruit called carambola. Slice one down the center and you'll see two five-pointed stars. Yet this decorative feature isn't all star fruit has to offer.

Unripe star fruit are green, and harvesting takes place when the color begins to change to yellow. All the parts of this thin-skinned fruit are edible. The taste is either sweet or tart, according to the variety.